You’ve probably seen some of the major Giving USA 2015 numbers already: growth of over five percent (adjusted for inflation) and a record level of giving at $358.4 billion. Amazing figures, and the data aligns with what we saw with the Nonprofit Research Collaborative’s (NRC) 2014 Year-End Fundraising Survey: strong growth in fundraising across the board with fundraising success levels at what we saw before the recession.
What’s really striking about the Giving USA data is just how quickly it took for giving to rise back to pre-recession levels. Just a few years ago, there was talk about how it might take a decade for giving to recover. Now it’s done so in just half that time. That speaks to the strong tradition of and investment in philanthropy in the U.S., as well as the level of professionalism within fundraising.
While the level of giving has returned to its pre-recession point, the makeup of giving has continued to change. Religious giving, which used to account for half of all giving decades ago, represented only 32 percent of total gifts in 2014. Arts, cultural and humanities groups saw the biggest growth in giving in 2014, which parallels what we saw for such groups in the NRC Year-End Survey as well (arts and culture groups experienced the biggest growth as well).
Despite all the fantastic news, overall charitable giving accounted for just 2.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product. It’s a challenge we’ve faced for many years now: how to get giving significantly past the 1.8 – 2.0 percent hurdle where it has been stuck at for decades (reaching 2.4 percent once in 2000). It’s one of the key goals for AFP, and we’ll be using a variety of research and public policy tools to find new and innovative ways to push giving to higher levels.
For more information and analysis of Giving USA 2015, check out these resources from our eWire newsletter, including information about how members can get a 30 percent discount on all Giving USA products.